Cherry Orange Graham Muffins
Placed delicately between the sugars, leavening agents and yeast on one side and the chocolates, cocoa powders, chopped nuts and oats on the other side is a twelve foot by six foot display cherishing the most basic of our baking decisions, the foundation of nearly every baked treat, flours. Every kind of flour imaginable sit so proudly staring back at passerby after passerby as these hurried men and women hastily reach for their processed, bleached, all purpose, “I can use this in anything, right?” flour. These special flours, delicate flours, hardy flours, crazy-fucking expensive flours–excuse my language but $15 for a pound?–wait and watch for their turn to be adopted. These special flours sit ignored, passed over for the easy, the simple, the well known.
Even I would pass these intriguing flavors only stopping in occasionally to grab semolina flour for my pasta or a good whole wheat flour for bread. For the most part my baking has been built on three flours: a twenty-five pound bag of all purpose, and a five pound bag of bread and cake flour–enough to get me through a week. Then one day something caught my eye as I strolled down this beautiful baking isle on my way to grab a few bags of bread and cake flour. Graham Flour. Could this be the graham flour of Graham Crackers? A quick wikipedia search on my phone confirmed my suspicions–isn’t the future awesome. I scooped up a bag since it looked both delicious and was relatively cheap compared to most of these specialty flours. I headed on my way.
I don’t think I had anything planned for this special flour but I liked the idea that I had the option to use it. Of course within three hours of getting home from the store, I decided to bake some muffins to cure my boredom. I settled on a mixture of cake flour and graham flour. I figured the graham flour, a wheat flour named for a man, with its slightly coarse feel and wheaty attributes would add a delicious touch. While hardly the star of this cherry and citrus muffin, the graham flour does add a nice touch. If you don’t have graham flour you have a couple options. You can substitute a mix of white flour, wheat bran and wheat germ–yeah that option sounds complicated–or you can substitute whole wheat flour. While the whole wheat flour route wont yield the exact same results, it will still give you that earthy, hearty texture and taste that the graham flour adds to this muffin.
This recipe was inspired from a scone recipe found over at The Amateur Gourmet–a man on which I have a huge foodie crush. I first decided to make the scones. Of course I didn’t have cranberries. I did have tons and tons of cherries so I decided to use them instead. It was delicious. I then thought, “boy, I bet these flavors will be great in a muffin,” so I merged a bit of that recipe with a bit of a foundation recipe in Bo Friberg’s book. I don’t know if I like the scones or muffins better. Both have their plusses. Theses muffins are delightful though. Oh I almost forgot, I threw some chopped candied pecans on some of the dozen I baked. It is both delicious with and without the addition of chopped candied pecans so I will leave that decision up to you.
About Cherries: Cherries are delicious and one of my all-time favorite fruit. They are incredibly messy though, especially if you remove the pit the old fashion way. I don’t believe in buying single-function tools so I don’t have a cherry pitter. I use a paring knife. Simply cut vertically around the circumference (as if you were cutting an avocado). One side of the cherry should pop off leaving the stem and pit in the other side. Delicately jam your finger and or finger nail under the pit and pull it out. Ta da! Yes, by the end of it your hands will look like they are soaked in blood and yes it may stain them for a day or two but it is well worth it in my book. Oh beware. This stuff stains cutting boards too. You may notice a little cherry stain in both the muffin photos. I decided not to edit it out so I could sell this point to you.
About Muffins: Muffins are simple to make but when making them you need to be sure not to over mix the batter or mix the batter at too high of a speed. Mixing too long or at too high of a speed could incorporate too much air leaving your muffins dry. Mix the batter at low to medium speed and after you cream the butter, sugar and honey you may want to mix by hand to keep from over mixing. Be careful not to over bake muffins as well as that can also create a dry product and who wants a dry muffin.
This recipe will yield 1 dozen muffins.
Cherry Orange Graham Muffins
Ingredients 6 ounces butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temp. 5 ounces brown sugar (3/4 cup) 4 ounces honey (1/3 cup) 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon vanilla Zest from 2 oranges Zest from 1 lemon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 8 ounces cake flour (2 cups) 3 ounces graham flour (1/2 cup) 1/2 cup buttermilk 1/4 cup half and half 2 cups chopped or halved cherries 1 cup chopped candied pecans Instructions 1. Preheat an oven to 375F. Line a muffin pan with paper cups. 2. Cream the butter, sugar and honey together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. 3. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla and zest makingsure to mix well after each addition. 4. Sift together the dry ingredients (salt, baking powder & soda andflours in a bowl. Mix the buttermilk and half and half in another bowl. 5. Pour half of the dry mixture into the fluffy egg and sugar mixture. Mix until incorporated but take care not to over mix. 6. Mix in all of the buttermilk and half and half. Mix until incorporated. 7. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 8. Gently fold in the cherries taking care not to mix them in to much as they will dye the batter red. 9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chopped candied pecans on top if you so desire. 10. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out just clean. A few crumbs here is fine. 11. Remove the muffins from the pan as soon as they are cool enough to handle.